How to lead like Alejandro Murrieta

Once upon a time, in the wild west, the Spaniards were on a mission to colonise Mexico and what was then, the Californias. The Spaniards, led by Rafael Montero, were brutal in their attack, and showed no mercy to civilians; or the commoners, who became the defenders of the invaded lands.  

The commoners were led by a masked swordsman, named Don Diego. Don Diego, who avenged the weak, who fought again tyranny, and who saved lives that would have been taken by the marauding Spaniards.  

Until Don Diego was captured and thrown in jail for 20 years. Not only was he captured and jailed, but his wife was killed by Rafale Montero. It was 1841 when Don Diego was finally released from prison. And he was out for revenge. 

In the 20 years that Don Diego spent imprisoned, two young commoner brothers, grew into manhood, and also took up their swords against the Spanish invasion. Those brothers were Alejandro and Joaquin Murrieta. When Joaquin was killed by the Spanish, Alejandro vowed to get revenge. 

Don Diego’s and Alejandro’s paths crossed, and the old wise swordsman took the angry and aggressive Alejandro under his wing. He committed to teach the young man how to control his anger, and to control his sword.  

The challenge for Alejandro was that Don Diego had a strange training style. Don Diego drew a circle on the ground, and his rule for Alejandro was that he was not allowed to leave the circle. He would have to fight and to use his sword, all whilst remaining inside the circle. “As you master control of the circle, you can expand your mastery beyond it” was Don Diego’s teaching philosophy. 

And of course, Alejandro did. He mastered his circle.  

The story goes that Don Diego and Alejandro exacted their revenge on the Spaniards, and they became a force for good in the mid 1800’s.  

Alejandro though didn’t want people to know his real identity, so he fashioned a mask to wear while he was performing his work as a swashbuckling swordsman. That mask of course is the mask of Zorro, and the circle that he trained is now known as Zorro’s Circle (credit: Shawn Achor in the book, the Happiness Advantage). 

You can learn more about this story from the 1998 movie The Mask of Zorro! 

But what can we learn as leaders from the concept of the Zorro’s circle? 

1. The circle represents those things in your control 

A lot of senior leaders, and their organisations, talk about a circle of control, and a circle of influence or concern. But how many leaders and their teams really buy into this concept. I have personally trained the concept, in a range of ways, and still struggle to get leaders to let go of what they can’t control. 

Being clear on what you can control, and what you can’t, gives you a peace of mind like nothing else. It helps you create a focus; it helps you hold yourself and others accountable, and it helps you handle what you are responsible for and let the other things go. 

It is easier said than done, though, and the tip that I have for you is to ask yourself the question ‘am I or my team directly responsible or accountable for this action or task?’. If so, own it, if not pass it on, and move on. And stop worrying about it. Note that this is made easier if your team has a RACI matrix or similar that can help them.  

2. The circle represents small goals, which you can increase over time 

Leaders can really lean into the circle of Zorro mentality by starting small. Having achievable goals, and projects. Not having wildly unachievable goals and visions (these are good, but it will help you and your team if you start in a manageable way). 

Then you expand your circles. You can achieve your short-term goals, celebrate success, and then expand your circle. Or circles. By focusing on the short-term wins and successes, you can leverage then into greater achievements. Then it becomes not only the circle of Zorro, but the circles of Zorro.  

3. The circles represent the ripple effect of leadership 

Remember that good leadership is like dropping a pebble in a pond, and the ripples go far and wide. The person that you impact positively during the workday takes that positivity home. They share that with their children. 

Who share that with their friends. Who share that with their parents. Who share that with their friends. Who don’t know where all the positivity came from, or where the good ideas came from. 

In 2013, Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins wrote an article titled “The Ripple Effect” and they outlined that “because a leader’s ripple effect is real and has implications, building an authentic, connected presence to others becomes increasingly important the more senior we become.” 

Because leaders have an impact not just on their team members, but also on anyone that those team members come into contact with. Energy and emotions are contagious, and they spread like the ripples on the pond. 

What does leading like Alejandro (aka Zorro) look like for you? 

And please click the image below if you’d like to chat about what leadership means to you.

If you would like to learn more about Anton or The Guinea Group, please click hereto book into Anton’s calendar, to:

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About Anton

Anton has dedicated his working life to helping leaders to upgrade their mindset, upskill their leadership, and uplift their teams! With a focus on helps leaders to better lead under pressure. Anton is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, bestselling author and founder of The Guinea Group. Over the past 19 years, Anton has worked with over 175+ global organisations, he has inspired workplace leadership, safety, and cultural change. He’s achieved this by combining his corporate expertise, education (Bachelor of HR and Psychology), and infectious energy levels.
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